Can India-Pakistan have an EU-like union? Youth from both countries weigh in

Hyderabad: For some time now, the idea of having a European union-type union in the Indian subcontinent, has been in the air. Some politicians have shown support for it including the likes of current Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan and Member of parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu. 

Many movies have also been made revolving around the topic of unity between India and Pakistan. But what do the youth of both countries think about such a union? 

Siasat.com managed to speak to a few youth from India and Pakistan to get their opinion on the topic. 

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While many disapproved; but, some agreed to the idea.

A student from Hyderabad, India, 21-year-old Gayathri thinks it is a terrible idea. She is of the opinion that all other countries in the subcontinent are supported by China, which is India’s biggest enemy.

“Let’s be honest, we have had some very bad history with most of these countries. If they unionise, they will have easy access to enter India which means more terrorist attacks and reverse growth of our economy,” she added. 

A trend which is often talked about but is only limited to just talking, is the behaviour of politicians who create barriers for political gains between the two countries. A student highlighted this issue. 

“We need to change the mindset of both sides. We need to be careful about today’s era politicians that spread misconception between both countries for their own political interest,” said a 23-year-old software engineer from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Shakeel Afridi. 

For that he said we need to choose the best politicians that have “peace in their blood.” He added that it’s quite difficult to form such a union in this political era because there are a lot of barriers. 

Even though it might lead to de-escalation of tensions and easy trade within the subcontinent, a youth leader from Delhi, India, Chandramani Dev, said that he thinks that Pakistan would never be ready for such a union.

Not ruling out the possibility of a union and criticizing the treatment of minorities in India, 20 year old Mohammed Abbas, a Pakistani studying in the UK who has Punjabi roots, said that a union for economic benefits is possible, but only after “Kashmir is free and Indian Muslims are not treated like second class citizens.”

Hasnen Syed, a 21-year-old student from Surat, India, calls it an impossible thing to do as the population of the subcontinent is much more than Europe. “Everyone’s thinking and perspectives are also different and it will be impossible to get along,” he said. 

Further, he added there’s a better chance to form a union with Bangladesh because their government is friendlier to India. 

With regard to religious differences, Tamhid, a student from Dhaka, Bangladesh said that the idea seems good at first but it’s complex since religion plays a vital role in the sub continent and in people’s lives, culture, traditions and ideology and we all have our disagreements and hostility towards each other. 

“If for reasons like trade, healthcare, tourism then it would be a good but the republic of India is and has always been hostile towards Islam and Muslims, so it’s a big gamble,” he added. 

26-year-old Mehwish from Karachi, Pakistan told siasat.com that she thinks it’s a good idea in theory, but the history does not quite back this up. 

“It might turn out good in the beginning however, one party would demand unequal terms and conditions causing more problems than solutions and it would result in the other party backing out from the union.” She said that Europeans could form a union because they could accept England as their superior; but in the case of the subcontinent, electing one superior is not possible and leads to many conflicts. 

However, despite many people considering it a bad idea, some even fully supported it. 

Mohammed Ibad (name changed), a student activist from Islamabad said: “Despite all the differences we have, we can look at Indians and Pakistanis who live in western countries and realise how well they get along.” 

He added that in Saudi Arabia where he grew up, Indians and Pakistanis had a friendly rivalry and used to watch cricket matches together. 

He said, “Our race and language are the same; our history is the same; our food is the same; our movies and superstars are the same, our favourite sport is the same.” The only thing, he said, that divides the people are the politicians. 

“We have to replace them on both sides of the border,” he suggested.

21-year-old entrepreneur from Secunderabad, Md Aftab Khan also supported the idea and said that there will be diplomatic and economic benefits. He said that it will ease tensions and help the economy grow faster.

“If east and west Germany could come together into one country; if Britain and France who were enemies for a long time and fought so many wars can form a union and if Arab countries can normalize relations with Israel, this is possible too,” he said.

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